Eight Amur tiger skins have been seized from a resident of Arseniev town in Primorsky krai (Russian Far East).
While many people in the region revere the Amur tiger ( Panthera tigris altaica ) there are some who consider it simply as roaming “striped money” and try to get, by fair means or foul, a skin of this rare animal that is listed as an endangered species in Red Books of the Russian Federation and IUCN . Among the seized skins were two cubs of 1- or 2-month-old. Specialists think that hunters killed the whole tiger family creating a devastating impact on tiger conservation as there are estimated to only about 8-10 adult Amur tigers living in the Lazovsky Nature Reserve - one of the largest nature reserves in Primorye .
“Viktor, a wildlife dealer, is well-known by investigators for his illegal business; he has been buying up illegal wildlife products since the 1990s and has been apprehended several times. Unfortunately, his appetite has significantly increased since then,” Primorsky Police press services said. “Besides tiger skins, police officers found 230 ginseng roots, 97 bottles of vodka with ginseng roots, 150 cartridges and about $115,000 in cash. The man allegedly bought up the goods from poachers in order to sell them on in China."
The man is now facing a heavy fine or a two-year imprisonment under the article 175 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Acquisition or Sale of Property, Knowingly Obtained in a Criminal Manner). He will be also punished under article 222 (Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms, Its Basic Parts, Ammunition, Explosives, and Explosive Devices).
“Despite the fact that following the International Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg in 2010 the Russian Government is allocating big money to conserve Amur tigers in protected areas, poaching continues to be a major hurdle. Unfortunately, the government is facing a tough fight with poachers,” says Sergei Bereznuk , Director of the DSWF supported Phoenix Fund. “We have not recovered yet from the last alarming news about a huge seizure of skins and derivatives of wild animals in April. During a search the police accidentally discovered 148 bear paws, two Himalayan bear skins, three brown bear skins, two Amur tiger skins and five tails plus five sea eagle carcasses. We hope that the arrested men will receive just punishment for their crimes."